Asked by reporters at the White House about the possibility that he would pardon Stone, who was sentenced last week to 40 months in prison, Trump said, “That juror is so biased and so tainted, that shouldn’t happen in our criminal justice system.”
“You have a juror that is obviously tainted. She was an activist against Trump. She said bad things about Trump and bad things about Stone,” the President claimed without evidence. “She somehow weaseled her way onto the jury and if that’s not a tainted jury then there is no such thing as a tainted jury.”
The President’s comments this week follow Stone’s attempts to raise doubts about his conviction. In recent days, he has sought a new trial and asked the judge to remove herself from his case.
Both of these types of requests often don’t succeed in court, but they have allowed Trump to continue to question Stone’s trial publicly, where a jury in Washington unanimously found Stone guilty on seven counts that revolved around him protecting the President.
Stone legally has the ability to raise challenges about his trial after his sentencing, and his team has made clear they may seek appeals while his friends have lobbied for a presidential pardon.
Stone was convicted last fall of lying to Congress and threatening a witness regarding his efforts for Trump’s 2016 campaign to reach WikiLeaks about politically damaging information the group received from the Russians about Hillary Clinton.
The President attacked the forewoman multiple times this past week, alleging that she was biased and led to a tainted jury.
Tomeka Hart has been identified as the juror in question. The court has not released Hart’s name, or an initial juror screening questionnaire she filled out, but her bio matches the questioning of juror 1261, who acknowledged to the court during the trial’s first day in November that she ran for Congress and lived in Tennessee.
Hart publicly revealed herself to be the Stone jury forewoman last week in a post on social media.
Stone’s defense team did not attempt to challenge juror 1261 from serving on the jury at the time. Hart told the judge and lawyers for both sides that she could be impartial.
But it’s still not known what Hart told the court, when asked in a written questionnaire her opinion of Trump, who was mentioned at trial. Stone, in his ask for a new trial, alleges a juror misled the court “regarding her ability to be unbiased and fair and the juror attempted to cover up evidence that would directly contradict her false claims of impartiality,” according to a filing he made Friday night.
After Hart publicly identified herself as a juror forewoman, Stone’s supporters attacked her for negative social media posts she made about Trump and his backers before the trial.
Hart was one of the 12 jurors chosen after neither side objected to her. According to a court transcript of the jury selection process, Hart acknowledged having a social media presence and knowing that Stone was involved in the Trump campaign and possibly connected with the Russia investigation.
The presiding judge in the case, Amy Berman Jackson, asked directly: “Is there anything about that that affects your ability to judge him fairly and impartially sitting here right now in this courtroom?” Hart replied: “Absolutely not.”
The judge followed up: “Can you kind of wipe the slate clean and learn what you need to learn in this case from the evidence presented in the courtroom and no other source?” Hart replied: “Yes.”
Almost all of the states with a large Latino population will vote in just the next four weeks: Nevada led the way Saturday, followed by Texas, California and Colorado on March 3, or Super Tuesday, and Arizona, Florida and Illinois on March 17.
Cumulatively, the seven states with large Latino populations looming on the calendar will elect nearly half the Democratic delegates at stake in February and March.
Bernie Sanders is breaking barriers with young Latinos. Now he just needs them to vote

This clustering will provide Latinos their best opportunity to influence the choice of the 2020 Democratic nominee. And it represents a key opportunity for Sanders, who has devoted enormous effort to organizing among Latinos after most of them backed Hillary Clinton during their 2016 contest for the nomination.
That effort paid off in Nevada where entrance polls showed Sanders winning a stunning 53% of Latino voters, three times as much as the next closest competitor (former Vice President Joe Biden at 17%).
That marked a significant expansion of Sanders’ coalition beyond the universe of younger and very liberal voters who powered his bid in 2016 and provided the core of his support in the Iowa and New Hampshire races that kicked off the 2020 race.
Sanders’ team now expects he will benefit not only from improved performance among Latinos, but greater participation in the primaries from them too, as they turn out to express their opposition to President Donald Trump.

Sanders needs young Latinos to vote

Sanders is breaking barriers with young Latinos. Now he just needs them to vote.
“You are going to see much more intensity in the Latino community and I think that’s going to have a big benefit for him in a whole host of states,” says Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser to Sanders.
Both in 2008 and 2016, Latinos came together to provide a critical mass of support for Clinton. In each of her two presidential races, she carried almost exactly three-fifths of all Latino voters, according to cumulative analyses of all the exit polls conducted in each contest.
Although Sanders won the youngest Latino voters, the analysis found, his support declined steadily among older generations.
Until Nevada, no candidate this time appeared to consolidate nearly as much support among Latinos. “I think it’s a much tighter contest this year than in 2016,” said Matt Barreto, managing partner and co-founder of Latino Decisions, a Democratic polling firm that focuses on Latino voters, a few days before the Nevada results.
Biden has been attracting the second most support among Latinos, though former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, fueled by a barrage of Spanish-language television advertising, is quickly establishing a beachhead too, Barreto says. Bloomberg did not compete in the Nevada contest.
So far, the campaigns and media alike have focused more attention on the group of Southeast states with large African American populations that will also be voting over the same period. That list starts on South Carolina on February 29 and runs into mid-March through states including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi and North Carolina. Biden, in particular, is relying on those states to recover from his extremely weak showings in the first two contests.
The potential impact of Latinos, mostly in Southwest states, that will be voting at the same time has generated much less discussion.
“I really do think there is almost a total denial of the emerging Latino vote in the United States,” said former Illinois Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who played a leading role on immigration issues until retiring from the House in 2018. “People say statistically they say we will outnumber any minority group, but when I read my favorite newspapers, watch my favorite newscasts, we’re absent.”

The upcoming voting rush

From Nevada through March 17, the Democratic primary calendar will run through seven of the 12 states where Latinos constitute at least 10% of the total eligible voting population, according to recent figures from the Pew Research Center.
New Mexico, the state where Latinos comprise the largest share of eligible voters (at almost 43%), doesn’t vote until June. But all of the states that rank next on the list for Latino presence are voting in this upcoming rush. That includes California (30.5% of eligible voters), Texas (30.4%), Arizona (23.6%), Florida (20.5%), Nevada (19.7%) and Colorado (15.9%). Latinos represent almost 12% of eligible voters in Illinois, the other state voting soon with a large concentration of that population.
In a Democratic primary, the Latino share of the vote in most of those states will likely be larger than their share of the overall eligible population. Barreto said all indications in polling points to high Latino turnout in the upcoming primaries.
“There is a very high level of interest,” he said. “When you get to the Super Tuesday states we are expecting extremely high turnout in California and Texas.”
The seven Latino-heavy states voting through March 17 will award 1,207 pledged delegates to the Democratic convention. That’s 46% of the 2,603 total pledged delegates that will be awarded in primaries and caucuses through February and March.
After this cluster of states vote, Latinos won’t weigh in again in large numbers until the primaries on April 24, when Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York, with eligible voting populations ranging from 11 to 15%, will hold their contests.
In most states, delegates are allocated based on the results in each congressional district. And, though many might assume that Latinos are concentrated in a few large cities, in these upcoming states at least they are geographically dispersed in a manner that will magnify their influence. In all, according to the Pew figures, Latinos constitute at least 15% of the eligible population in 110 of the 154 congressional districts across those seven states, including 31 of the 36 in Texas.
“It is really incredibly geographically spread out,” said Manny Garcia, executive director of the Texas Democratic Party. “You need to not only be going into the urban areas to reach (Latinos).”
While this widening geographic reach underscores Latinos’ potential impact in the next stage of the Democratic race, it’s been less certain they will coalesce enough behind any one candidate to significantly reshape the contest.
Nevada raises the possibility that Sanders could unify them to a much greater extent than seemed possible only a few weeks ago. His support among Latinos younger than 30 reached a head-turning 72%, according to the entrance polls.

Sanders leads top tier in outreach

While some Latino groups have complained that none of the Democrats have focused as much on their communities as they expected, Sanders has exceeded the other top tier contenders in outreach. His campaign made unprecedented efforts to mobilize the modest but growing Latino population in Iowa.
New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of his most prominent surrogates, held a bilingual town hall in Nevada and other supporters hosted another one in Houston last weekend. In California, Sanders’ state director and political director are Latinos, and his deputy state director is Latina.
Sanders also is far outpacing the other candidates, apart from the two self-funding billionaires in the race, in television advertising in the Latino-heavy states impending on the calendar. As of Friday, Sanders had spent $1.7 million on television in Nevada, roughly twice as much as both Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, with former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg trailing slightly behind those two, according to figures from Kantar Media/CMAG provided to CNN. Businessman Tom Steyer, who is self-funding, has dwarfed all of them in Nevada television spending at nearly $14 million.
In the other states with big Latino populations looming on the calendar, only Sanders and the two billionaires are on the airwaves at all. Neither Biden, Buttigieg, Warren nor Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar had purchased any television ads in Texas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida or Illinois as of Friday. But Sanders has spent more than $7 million in California and Texas combined and another $441,000 in Colorado.
Importantly, Sanders is spending significant sums not only on English- but also Spanish-language advertising, especially in California. There, the figures show he’s placed nearly $2 million in Spanish language ads, almost exactly as much as Bloomberg. (Bloomberg is significantly outspending Sanders on Spanish-language television in Texas, Arizona and Florida, however.)

Polls show Sanders’ work paying off

In January, a Public Policy Institute of California poll found Sanders drawing almost 40% of Latinos there, compared to about one in four for Biden. The latest Texas Tribune/University of Texas survey there put Sanders narrowly ahead of Biden (31% to 24%), according to results provided to CNN. Sanders also led Biden by a similar margin among Latinos in a national Pew Research Center poll from late January.
Stephanie Valencia, the co-founder and president of EquisLabs, a Democratic firm that specializes in studying Latino voters, said her group’s own research has found that the investments the Sanders campaign has made and his name ID over the past four years “has helped him to garner some serious support within the community.”
Valencia’s polls found a surge of positive feeling toward Sanders among Latinos in Nevada, immediately before his strong showing with them there. The striking Nevada result in turn could encourage more Latinos in other states to take another look at Sanders, further expanding his support.
As these results suggest, in the Latino community, Biden can’t count on the same reservoir of goodwill toward the Obama presidency as he’s drawing on among African Americans. Although Latino groups grew warmer toward Obama in his second term — when, among other things, he instituted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to protect from deportation millions of young people brought to the US illegally by their parents — in his first term, the large number of deportations and the sublimation of immigration reform to health care reform rankled some leaders.
Biden apologized for the deportations in an interview with Univision last weekend. While “there are a lot of positive feelings about Barack Obama” among Latinos, Gutierrez said, Biden’s links to him are “going to be a much stronger card in the African American community.”
The most encouraging sign for Biden in Saturday’s Nevada results was that he maintained a double-digit lead among African American voters, according to the entrance polls. That would serve him well in South Carolina and the other Southeast states with large black populations that follow soon after.
But if Sanders can sustain anything close to the lopsided advantage with Latinos that he displayed in Nevada, he will still hold the high card in the cascade of early March contests now looming before the Democrats.
Sanders, a Vermont independent, stands at 28% among those likely to vote in the Democratic primary, according to a CBS News and YouGov poll released Sunday and conducted after last week’s debate. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren follows at 19% and former Vice President Joe Biden at 17%. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s support stood at 13%, while former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg was at 10%. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar was at 5% in the poll.
The poll, which was conducted between February 20 and 22 and concluded before Sanders claimed victory in the Nevada caucuses, comes less than a week before Democratic voters in South Carolina head to the polls to participate in the state’s primary.
There is no prior trend from CBS News and YouGov on the national Democratic race, but Warren’s 19% showing appears to be an improvement compared with other polls conducted before last week’s debate in Nevada. In an Ipsos/Reuters poll, which uses a similar online survey methodology, she stood at 9% in polling conducted from February 14 through 17.
The poll also found that nearly two-thirds of registered voters nationwide say they think President Donald Trump probably or definitely will get reelected (65% say so, 35% say that probably or definitely will not happen), even as hypothetical matchups with the top Democratic candidates are tight regardless of who the Democratic nominee is: The margin was 3 points or less in each of six matchups tested.
The CBS News and YouGov survey was conducted from February 20 to 22 among a sample of 10,000 registered voters. The sample includes 6,498 self-identified Democrats and the results have a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 points.
Government aides worked throughout the weekend on the supplemental request, which is still not final but could be sent to Capitol Hill as soon as Monday, according to a person familiar with the plans.
That source said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has ruffled feathers through the process by requesting amounts of money that “have been seen as largely out of proportion.” The source noted HHS already has money that could be used for coronavirus issues, but claimed Azar “has been pushing hard for this to overcompensate” for management decisions regarding coronavirus containment that the source criticized.
The US now has 36 confirmed cases of coronavirus. Fourteen Americans who tested positive for the disease returned to the US this week after spending weeks in isolation on the luxury cruise ship Diamond Princess docked in Japan.
A spokesperson for HHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The supplemental funding request was first reported by Politico.
The discussions about funding come as the Trump Administration has grappled with how to deal with the rapidly-spreading disease, including what to do with those Americans on board that cruise ship who were flown back to the US to continue quarantine.
President Donald Trump downplayed concern about the contagion on Sunday as he departed the White House for India, claiming his administration has the virus “very much under control in this country.”
“It’s a big situation going on throughout the world, and I can say that the Unites States, we’ve pretty much closed our doors in certain areas and about certain areas and lose certain areas,” he told reporters. “We have the greatest doctors in the world, we have it under control, we accepted a few people — a very small amount of people, they’re very well confined, and they should be getting better fairly soon. Very interestingly, we have no deaths.”
Trump praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for his handling of the outbreak in China, claiming Xi has worked “very, very hard” to contain the virus.
The Trump administration has suspended all commercial flight traffic from China and has imposed quarantine orders on certain people who have recently spent time in China if they attempt to return to the US.
Officials were still working on the supplemental request heading into Sunday afternoon and the precise amount of funding has not yet been set. But the preparations to ask Congress for more money represents a significant step in the administration’s response to the global outbreak of the virus, which originated in China.
Although the White House initially took a measured approach to handling the virus, administration officials earlier this month issued travel bans, quarantine orders and increased mandatory screenings as officials evaluated the growing threat posed by the illness.
Government aides worked throughout the weekend on the supplemental request, which is still not final but could be sent to Capitol Hill as soon as Monday, according to a person familiar with the plans.
That source said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has ruffled feathers through the process by requesting amounts of money that “have been seen as largely out of proportion.” The source noted HHS already has money that could be used for coronavirus issues, but claimed Azar “has been pushing hard for this to overcompensate” for management decisions regarding coronavirus containment that the source criticized.
The US now has 36 confirmed cases of coronavirus. Fourteen Americans who tested positive for the disease returned to the US this week after spending weeks in isolation on the luxury cruise ship Diamond Princess docked in Japan.
A spokesperson for HHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The supplemental funding request was first reported by Politico.
The discussions about funding come as the Trump Administration has grappled with how to deal with the rapidly-spreading disease, including what to do with those Americans on board that cruise ship who were flown back to the US to continue quarantine.
President Donald Trump downplayed concern about the contagion on Sunday as he departed the White House for India, claiming his administration has the virus “very much under control in this country.”
“It’s a big situation going on throughout the world, and I can say that the Unites States, we’ve pretty much closed our doors in certain areas and about certain areas and lose certain areas,” he told reporters. “We have the greatest doctors in the world, we have it under control, we accepted a few people — a very small amount of people, they’re very well confined, and they should be getting better fairly soon. Very interestingly, we have no deaths.”
Trump praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for his handling of the outbreak in China, claiming Xi has worked “very, very hard” to contain the virus.
The Trump administration has suspended all commercial flight traffic from China and has imposed quarantine orders on certain people who have recently spent time in China if they attempt to return to the US.
Officials were still working on the supplemental request heading into Sunday afternoon and the precise amount of funding has not yet been set. But the preparations to ask Congress for more money represents a significant step in the administration’s response to the global outbreak of the virus, which originated in China.
Although the White House initially took a measured approach to handling the virus, administration officials earlier this month issued travel bans, quarantine orders and increased mandatory screenings as officials evaluated the growing threat posed by the illness.
Authorities have been searching for 1-week-old Andrew Caballeiro since January 28, when police were called to a Miami home and found three women shot dead. At the time, Andrew was missing and believed to be with his father.
But Andrew’s father, Ernesto Caballeiro, 49, was found dead in a wooded, rural area in Pasco County, Florida, a day after Andrew went missing. Caballeiro’s van, found about 50 yards from his body, was not far from Interstate 75 in Blanton, about 300 miles northwest of Miami.
Police are searching Andrew Caballeiro, who was 1 week old and weighed seven pounds when he went missing.

Police have issued an Amber Alert for the baby. On February 19, the Miami-Dade Police Department, along with Miami-Dade County Crime Stoppers and the Florida Sheriff’s Association, announced an $8,000 reward for information to locate Andrew.
Investigators found no evidence that the missing baby was with Ernesto Caballeiro when his father died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said on January 30.
Caballeiro left the Miami Dade County area about 4½ hours before arriving at the spot where he killed himself, the sheriff’s office said.
During that time, investigators frantically searched for the baby, using helicopters and bloodhounds. There’s been no sign of him so far.
Police did not disclose the relationship between the father and the women found dead in the Miami home. They were identified as Arlety Garcia Valdes, 40; Isabela Valdes, 60; and Lina Gonzalez, 84.
The victims are the baby’s mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, family friend Miguel Gonzalez told CNN affiliate WSVN.
“They are a good family,” Gonzalez said. “My friend is the uncle of the baby. I am unaware if they were having issues as a family.”
Miami police request that anyone with information on the whereabouts of Andrew call 911 or Miami-Dade County Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-8477 or 1-866-471-8477. Tips can also be submitted via the Crime Stoppers website. Anyone who provides a tip that leads to the recovery of the baby may be eligible for the $8,000 reward.
Albany police were notified of the email around 11:05 a.m. and responded with officers and three K-9 units, Albany police spokesman Steve Smith said.
With the help of New York State Police, officers cleared the building and determined there was no device or any threat inside the center or the neighboring day care center, Smith said.
The threat was also sent to several people with JCC emails, though it is not clear whether the additional people are also affiliated with the Albany JCC or other centers.
New York officials are adding more security for Jewish communities after several attacks this month

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted Sunday that “Bomb threats were made by email today against multiple Jewish Community Centers across NY.”
The incident is the latest in a growing number of anti-Semitic threats and attacks in New York and around the country. Cuomo said Sunday there have been about 42 anti-Semitic incidents in the state in the past couple of months, CNN affiliate WTEN reported.
Attorney General William Barr last month said the Justice Department will get more involved in fighting such crimes as their number rises.
The FBI has been notified about the Albany incident, and the investigation is ongoing, according to Smith.
Cuomo was at the Albany JCC on Sunday, according to Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for the governor’s office.
The New York Police Department is monitoring the situation in Albany, an NYPD spokesman told CNN on Sunday, saying it is not currently aware of any threats made to any JCCs in the city.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center on Saturday shared a video on Facebook showing the terrifying incident, which partially buried one of the riders.
In the video, the snowmobilers are riding up a mountain when the one in front sets off an avalanche that sweeps the other down the mountainside.
There were people skiing in the same area just moments before the avalanche. However, their presence did not cause the event, CAIC said.
“The skiers were fortunate to not trigger an avalanche,” CAIC said. “Moments later the snowmobiler, a larger trigger, was able to collapse the weak layer and trigger an avalanche.”
The avalanche occurred on February 11 near Leadville in Birdseye Gulch, according to the CAIC. The elevation in the area ranges from 10,000 to 12,000 feet.
“It’s really quite terrifying,” CAIC Director Ethan Greene told CNN affiliate KDVR. “Fortunately, the fellow that was caught in the avalanche ends up with his head above the snow.”
Greene told KDVR that the center recommends checking the state’s avalanche forecast before venturing out.
Two snowmobilers were killed last week after triggering an avalanche in the area of Muddy Pass, north of Vail. A third person who was snowmobiling with the group was able to free himself and alert authorities.
The avalanche center warned that large and deadly avalanches are likely to continue occurring in the area.

(CNN) — Docents at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia have not always reflected its diverse, vibrant collection.

The museum’s Ellen Owens and Kevin Schott found a way to change that. “Both of us had been thinking about how we can diversify our guide pool,” Owens told CNN. They used a grant to create a new program at the University of Pennsylvania-affiliated museum, called Global Guides.

The Global Guides work part-time for the museum for scheduled tours on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. They tell visitors about artifacts from their own part of the world — and put them in cultural context from personal experience.

What Schott believes sets this experience apart from that of other museums is that the Global Guides can relate artifacts dating back thousands of years to their first-hand experiences and upbringings.

“The artifacts look so alien,” Schott said. “The past looks so foreign to us. You need a guide to say they aren’t so different from us.”

Staying true to a personal past

Yaroub Al-Obaidi left Iraq as a refugee in 2007. Formerly a college lecturer at the College of Fine Arts University of Baghdad, he ended up in Syria with his four brothers and parents until the Syrian civil war began. He then moved to Malaysia — where his parents remain. He came to the United States in 2016.

He said an exhibit showing the jewelry buried with the Sumerian Queen Puabi from Ur always inspires when he gets to talk about it with his tour groups. According to Al-Obaidi and Schott, the jewelry weighed five pounds and the queen is believed to have worn it at her wedding. The gold jewelry is beautiful on its own, but it creates a connection that still exists in Iraqi marriage culture today, said Al-Obaidi.

Yaroub Al-Obaidi, an Iraqi refugee and one of the Penn Museum's Global Guides.

Yaroub Al-Obaidi, an Iraqi refugee and one of the Penn Museum’s Global Guides.

Penn Museum

“In Iraq, people want to buy more gold for the bride,” Al-Obaidi explained. “Some command the husband to buy more gold to make the bride look more shiny. I found a connection with gold, from 4,000, 5,000 years old and nowadays. I started to share with the audience and visitors how the bride looks, as Americans have the traditional wedding.”

The jewelry is just one example of what Al-Obaidi believes is the most rewarding part of his job: connecting with visitors.

“This is one of our goals and this program is to create the connection to build the bridge between us, me as the guide, from Iraq originally, where the artifact came from, and now I am here in the USA and living in Philadelphia giving this tour,” he said.

Bringing diasporas and disparate people together

Clay Katongo lived in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola but moved to the United States in 2003 after war and unrest broke out in the region. He studied at a seminary in Nyack, New York, to become a pastor and eventually made his way to Philadelphia, where he joined the Penn Museum last year.

When he learned about the job, Katongo said he welcomed the chance to share his stories with other people willing to listen.

Part of the African Section at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia.

Part of the African Section at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia.

Eric Sucar

Katongo believes each object embodies a spirituality of sorts and helps tell stories often lost to the ages, as most prehistoric Africans only shared their histories by word of mouth.

“There is a saying, when African ancestors die, there is an entire library that is burned,” he said.

“It’s burning with all the knowledge. Just by seeing the object, it connects the present to the past. It could bring to life what our ancestors had believed when they lived.”

Bridging the past to the present

It’s not just the objects that paint a picture of people’s commonalities, according to Schott. In his mind, the experiences of a refugee could happen to anyone.

“You can pile up facts on either side and just fight, but you can’t take away personal experience,” he said.

“All you can say is, ‘I’m sorry that happened to you.’ You can’t counter the story of a Global Guide.

“There have been a few people that have asked personal questions but the nature of the tour being personal recollections, there’s not really anything to fight about.”

The justice wrote that granting emergency applications often upends “the normal appellate process” while “putting a thumb on the scale in favor of the party that won.” Targeting her conservative colleagues, she said “most troublingly, the Court’s recent behavior” has benefited “one litigant over all others.”
Sotomayor’s dissent was in response to the court’s 5-4 order granting the government’s request to allow its controversial “public charge” rule to go into effect in every state. The rule makes it more difficult for immigrants to obtain legal status if they use public benefits like food stamps and housing vouchers. Although the three other liberal justices on the bench also dissented, they remained silent and did not join Sotomayor’s decision.
“Claiming one emergency after another, the Government has recently sought stays in an unprecedented number of cases,” Sotomayor said. “It is hard to say what is more troubling,” she said, pointing to the case at hand, “that the Government would seek this extraordinary relief seemingly as a matter of course, or that the Court would grant it.” She noted that in the case at hand, the lower court order that the Supreme Court lifted was narrow and only impacted one state.
Sotomayor’s comments come as the Supreme Court is in the midst of a blockbuster term considering issues such as abortion, LGBTQ rights, the Second Amendment, immigration and President Donald Trump’s effort to shield his financial records. The justices are behind schedule in releasing opinions, and court watchers have questioned if the delay is caused in part by Chief Justice John Roberts’ required participation in the impeachment proceedings, or if the justices themselves are fractured over a number of cases. Although Sotomayor wrote alone, her opinion suggests unease behind the scenes.
For its part, the government, supported by at least two conservative justices, has argued in the past that emergency requests have become necessary because lower courts are increasingly issuing broad preliminary injunctions that cover states that weren’t a party to the original lawsuit.
On the one hand, Sotomayor says that the court is lowering its standards when considering emergency requests from the government. On the other hand, the Trump administration counters that such requests are necessary because lower courts are issuing overly broad preliminary opinions, prematurely blocking its policies while the appeals process plays out.
Friday’s order came after the Supreme Court last month, again dividing 5-4, allowed the “public charge” rule to go into effect across the country — except for Illinois — because the state was governed by a separate judicial order.
The Trump administration took the next step of asking the court to lift the Illinois order. That request was granted Friday.
Now the public charge rule, scheduled for implementation Monday — will take effect nationwide while the legal process plays out.
“This final rule will protect hardworking American taxpayers, safeguard welfare programs for truly needy Americans, reduce the Federal deficit, and re-establish the fundamental legal principle that newcomers to our society should be financially self-reliant and not dependent on the largess(e) of United States taxpayers,” the White House said in a statement Saturday.
Addressing more than the case at hand, Sotomayor wrote about what she called a “now-familiar pattern.”
“The government seeks emergency relief from this Court,” asking the justices to step in when lower courts have declined to do so, and then the Court “has been all too quick to grant the government’s reflexive requests.”
“Make no mistake,” Sotomayor said, “this Court is partly to blame for the breakdown in the appellate process.”
She lamented the fact that the court has at times denied similar emergency requests from death row inmates.
“The Court often permits executions—where the risk of irreparable harm is the loss of life—to proceed, justifying many of those decisions on purported failures to ‘raise any potentially meritorious claims in a timely manner,’ ” she said.
“I fear that this disparity in treatment erodes the fair and balanced decisionmaking process that this Court must strive to protect,” she said.
Professor Steve Vladeck, a CNN contributor who has studied the issue of emergency requests, noted in a recent piece for the Harvard Law Review that Solicitor General Noel Francisco has been more aggressive in seeking to “short-circuit” the ordinary course of appellate litigation than his immediate predecessors.
In an interview, Vladeck noted that Francisco has not always prevailed, “but he has done so far more often than his predecessors.”
“This is now the 24th time that the Trump administration has asked the Supreme Court to put a lower court decision on hold in less than three years compared to a total of eight such requests during the 16 years of the George W. Bush and Obama administration’s combined,” Vladeck said.
“As in this case, the justices have often agreed to these requests even when the lower court ruling, as in the most recent case, had only a local impact,” he added.
But the government has complained there has been an uptick of orders by lower courts blocking Trump policies nationwide. In late January, for example, when the court allowed the public charge rule to go into effect for every state except Illinois, Justice Neil Gorsuch joined by Justice Clarence Thomas voted in the majority and wrote separately to criticize the fact that the lower court had issued such a broad injunction impacting those who weren’t plaintiffs in the case.
Gorsuch criticized the “increasingly common practice” of trial courts issuing broad orders blocking a policy.
“The routine issuance of universal injunctions is patently unworkable,” Gorsuch wrote.
Last May, Attorney General William Barr complained at a speech to the American Law Institute, about nationwide injunctions, particularly how they have blocked his administration from terminating DACA, an issue that is currently before the Supreme Court.
He said that nationwide injunctions have “frustrated presidential policy for most of the President’s term with no end in sight.” He said we are “more than halfway through the President’s term, and the administration has not been able to rescind the signature immigration initiative of the last administration, even thought it rests entirely on executive discretion.”
He said such injunctions “have injected the courts into the political process” and inspired “unhealthy litigation tactics.” He noted that after the courts had blocked the travel ban, the Supreme Court ultimately allowed the third version to go into effect.
“Limiting judicial power to resolving concrete disputes between parties, rather than conducting general oversight of the Political Branches, ensures that courts do not usurp their policymaking functions,” Barr said.